Remembering “The Champ”: Muhammad Ali’s Legacy at Barrow
One man made it his mission to fight for improved care and services for Parkinson’s patients. Muhammad Ali brought the same courage and commitment to this battle that he brought with him every time he stepped into the ring or on the world’s stage. He was ”The Greatest.” In memory of his birthday, a heartfelt thank you to the “The Champ” for working with Barrow in creating the Lonnie and Muhammad Ali Legacy Care Program ensuring personalized care for every Parkinson’s patient.
Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984. Though the Champ resisted association with Parkinson’s for years, his neurologist at Barrow Neurological Institute, Abraham Lieberman, MD, changed Ali’s mind. In 1997 Ali, Lieberman, and Phoenix philanthropist Jimmy Walker established the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center, the largest and most comprehensive Parkinson’s center in the country.
“Muhammad was proud to lend his name to the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center and offer hope and inspiration to those afflicted with Parkinson’s disease,” his widow, Lonnie Ali, said when “Muhammad Ali Way” street signs were unveiled near the Center.
Walker’s Celebrity Fight Night charity event has raised more than $35 million for Barrow Neurological Institute.
“Muhammad attended Celebrity Fight Night every year for 20 years,” says Walker. “It was a thrill for all of us just to have him in the room.”
Proceeds from Celebrity Fight Night and a $4 million grant from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation established the Lonnie and Muhammad Ali Legacy Care Program in 2017. The program was created to honor the Ali’s commitment that all people with Parkinson’s disease receive the same high quality care Dr. Lieberman provided Muhammad.
The Legacy Program offers innovative, state-of-the-art, patient-centered palliative care to patients with Parkinson’s, providing relief from symptoms, suffering, and stress associated with the illness. The Legacy Program ensures patients and caregivers maintain their dignity, independence, and quality of life.
“Muhammad was bigger than life,” says Dr. Lieberman. “We wanted the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center to be worthy of his name and it’s now one of the best regarded centers in the country. I know he would be proud.”
Help us continue Ali’s fight for Parkinson’s awareness by supporting Barrow’s efforts to discover better diagnostic tools for Parkinson’s, better targeted treatments, better ways to measure progression, and even a cure.